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Hedge Fund Charity RICE Seeks More for Kids in Slums, Hospital

Hedge Fund Charity RICE Seeks More for Kids in Slums
A University of California San Diego surgical team and a Khmer surgical team perform heart surgery at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photographer: Daniel Rothenberg/RICE Fund via Bloomberg

Returns Invested in Children and Education, the charity set up by Asia’s hedge-fund industry, is stepping up efforts to raise money for minors, including the sick in Cambodia and those growing up in India’s brothels.

The charity, known as RICE and started by hedge fund managers in 2006, is seeking to widen the source of its funds and allocate the money to projects in Asia after registering in Singapore as an International Charitable Organization in September, said Paul Smith, the international chief of its fund-raising committee. It previously raised money privately and was funded mainly by a few wealthy individuals, Smith said.

Asia-focused hedge funds attracted more than $3.6 billion in net new capital in the first quarter, taking the industry’s total assets to $88 billion as investors returned after the global financial crisis, lured by the region’s economic growth that is outstripping the rest of the world, according to the Chicago-based research firm Hedge Fund Research Inc.

“It’s a successful industry that generates a lot of cash and a lot of the profitability of the industry comes because it’s here in Asia,” said Peter Douglas, a RICE director who is principal of Singapore-based GFIA Pte, which advises investors seeking to allocate money to hedge funds and runs a wealth-management business. “There’s a genuine need to give back and a means to do so.”

RICE will seek donation pledges at the Asian hedge-fund awards dinner organized by Eurekahedge Pte, an industry data provider, in Singapore tomorrow, said Smith, who is also chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based asset manager and hedge fund distributor Triple A Partners Ltd.

Fund Raising Events

The charity is in the later stages of registering in Hong Kong and is preparing “a series of small fund-raising events” there, Smith said. RICE targets the “average person” working in a hedge fund or in an industry service provider, he said.

The Robin Hood Foundation gala, Wall Street’s largest single-evening fundraising event, had Lady Gaga onstage and took in $47.4 million at its annual New York dinner this month. Its board includes Paul Tudor Jones II, Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn and SAC Capital Advisors LP’s Steven A. Cohen. Absolute Return for Kids, the charity founded by Arpad Busson, raised 14.1 million pounds ($23 million) about a year ago in London.

Smith said he “would be very happy” if RICE were to raise at least $100,000 this year.

The charity raised a “biggish five-figure sum” at a dinner in Singapore in March for a group of 16 at the home of Stephen Diggle, who set up Vulpes Investment Management in April after closing Artradis Fund Management Pte, said Douglas.

Full Allocation

RICE’s administration costs are funded by members of its committees, and “every cent” it gets from donors goes to the projects that it supports, Smith said.

Tessa Boudrie, who previously did projects for Unicef and Oxfam, sources for recipients, conducts due diligence on their organizations, and monitors projects focusing on children and education for the hedge-fund charity. RICE has supported projects in Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and China, Boudrie said. She declined to disclose the amount the charity has raised so far.

The charity focuses on organizations that aren’t yet funded by big donors, said Hong Kong-based Boudrie.

The next allocation will probably go mainly to India, Boudrie said. The organizations that the social worker has visited this year include one that helps children growing up in the brothels of Mumbai’s slums and another that provides night education for minors who work during the day, she said.

RICE is also considering allocating more funds to Siem Reap-based Angkor Hospital for Children, which provides pediatric care and offers education for Cambodian health workers, Boudrie said.

“In hedge fund terms you use the word ‘seed funding,’” she said. “It’s a bit like that, to ensure that these organizations can grow to a level where they can receive funding from the bigger donors.”

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